Human trafficking hotline notification bill passes PA Legislature

A bill requiring certain businesses to post signs highlighting a human trafficking hotline is on its way to the governor’s desk, according to an October 17 news story from Capitolwire in Harrisburg.
House Bill 235 requires notification of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline be posted prominently in bars, strip clubs, massage parlors, state-run welcome centers and rest areas, truck stops, airports, train stations and bus stations. Other businesses may also post the notification.
The notification will be available on the Department of Labor and Industry’s website in English, Spanish and any other appropriate language for the county in which it is displayed. Businesses could access the department’s website and print the notification as needed.
If a business is found not to be following the law, complaints could be made to the state licensing authority that oversees the business or to law enforcement. Licensing authorities could impose administrative penalties to offset their enforcement costs.
The legislation sailed through the House and Senate unanimously on Wednesday.
Rep. Paul Clymer, R-Bucks, who chairs the House Education Committee and sponsored HB 235, said nearly 20 other states have a similar law. He also praised the bill as a collaboration with Senate Judiciary Democratic Chairman Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, who introduced similar legislation last January, and other groups.
“The average age of a girl in prostitution in America is 13 years old. We’re hoping this bill will do what it’s done in other states – create a dramatic increase of people who call and get them the help they need,” Leach said.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14, and between the ages of 11 and 13 for boys and transgender youth.
Posting the hotline information has led to an increase in calls regarding human trafficking, with 19,427 calls received last year, according to the Polaris Project, an international nonprofit that works against the modern-day slavery.
The Tavern Association, the Tourism and Lodging Association, and other groups supported the legislation.
Leach said the bill is a step in the right direction, but hopes other legislation is passed to give those forced into prostitution a better defense in court and a way to expunge the charge from their record.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline is 1-888-373-7888.
By Kevin Zwick, Staff Reporter, Capitolwire